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Soft Sells

(March 2017) posted on Wed Mar 29, 2017

Today’s coolest hotel collections and soft brands make superb styling and experiential expertise their book of standards. This trendsetting trio shows how.


By Oriana Lerner

click an image below to view slideshow

Guests want every hotel to be a hidden gem. They just don’t want to play detective to find them. Enter the 2017 version of a soft brand. Hotel industry giants are turning the tables on boutique hoteliers, leveraging the stronger-than-ever power of loyalty programs and global reservation systems to make finding that dream room effortless.

Cafe
In the cafe of Hotel La Comtesse, the ceiling becomes the focal point. Pops of color on chairs ground that statement. Photo: Elegancia Hotels

From the recent launch of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection to A-list hotels coming under the umbrella of major companies’ have-it-your-way flags, this is the heyday of soft brands and collections. What does that mean for design? Read on to find out how the (very different) solutions that are the heart and soul of these groups of rugged individuals take shape in a wine country retreat, a retro urban oasis and an era-melding city hideout.

Las Alcobas Napa Valley
The Luxury Collection, Marriott Intl.
St. Helena, California



The design brief that Las Alcobas’ managing partner Samuel Leizorek developed (along with interior designer Yabu Pushelberg (YP)) for the brand’s second outpost—the first, in Mexico City, was also a collaboration with YP—reads like a rundown of every buzzword in boutique style. There are the strong local elements, courtesy of antique barns and a protected historic building; the emphasis on natural materials and indoor/outdoor fluidity in design; and the uptown/downtown mix of a mega corporation’s marketing reach and the microcosm of a two-hotel flag.

Las Alcobas Napa Valley
The vineyards surrounding Las Alcobas Napa Valley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, become part of the design. Natural materials further blur the line between structure and landscape. Photo: Courtesy of Las Alcobas Napa Valley

That’s where any similarity to the Aces and Hoxtons of the world ends, says Leizorek. There’s no target guest. His dream travelers could be 30 or 70. And, the reason for their stay is as likely to be attending a conference as celebrating their wedding. “This is not a niche ‘lifestyle’ product; we want broad appeal,” he says. So, that made the hands-off approach of The Luxury Collection a great fit.

Leizorek 
Samuel Leizorek, Las Alcobas


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